VISTAS Client Characteristics and Needs

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Counselors Need to Know

Elisabeth D. Bennett, Meghan Butler, Elyssa Hunsaker, Opal Cook, and Brittany Leland


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2011) make clear the prevalence of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) noting that one of every 110 children is diagnosed with an ASD. The CDC noted that ASDs are an “urgent public health concern” with a prevalence rate of 1%; boys appear to be three to four times more likely to have ASDs than girls (2011; Fombonne, 2002). They add that our country needs to develop a coordinated service system to increase the health and well-being of children and families of ASD. They note that families from all socioeconomic and ethnic groups and children of all ages are impacted, leading to a need for services across all factions. With ever-increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with ASD, services across counseling specialties are in demand. Counselors from each specialty can better assist if they have both a basic understanding of the disorders along the spectrum and insight regarding best practice for children and families of ASD. This paper will serve to highlight each disorder currently delineated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) as pervasive developmental disorders, future trends in diagnoses, issues specific to children with autism or Asperger’s Disorder, and best practice regarding services for children with ASD and their families.

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